Saturday, May 21, 2011

Former GM, exec Bergesch passes away at 89

I had the pleasure of growing up in Mamaroneck, a really great little town just north of New York City. There were a lot of important people who lived in the area. Jonathan Winters’ son went to the same high school I did, for instance. Some traded on their parent’s fame, others didn’t. One those who didn’t was a beautiful young lady named Susan Bergesch. You’d never know from speaking to her that her dad was a pretty big deal in major league baseball. Her dad was just her dad. That dad went on to be, among other things, the Yankees Assistant GM and eventually the Reds GM, then he was back with the Yankees for a number of years in an advisory position. They don’t ask people to come back if the person doesn’t know what he’s doing, especially if the person doing the asking was George Steinbrenner. You can also look up Bergesch’s “baseball executive stats” at Baseball-Reference Bullpen It’s pretty interesting what his impact was on the game.

Bill Bergesch died last week and he’ll be missed by a lot of people. “Mr. Bergesch” got me in to a Yankees game in 1965 where I got to meet Whitey Ford and Ralph Houk (still have that autographed ball) before the game and sat in the owner’s box. He was a real gentleman and I remember him fondly. Look up the word “gentleman” in the dictionary and you’ll likely see his face there.

Here’s his obit from the website.

Front-office fixture of Yankees also spent time as Reds GM Former Reds general manager Bill Bergesch, who also spent time over four decades as an executive in the Yankees’ front office, died on Tuesday at the age of 89 in Stamford, Conn.

Bergesch was the GM of the Reds from November 1984 until October 1987. Several of the players he acquired in his tenure went on to help Cincinnati win the World Series in 1990.

Bergesch was born in St. Louis in 1921, and graduated from Washington University in 1946, after serving three years in the U.S. Army from 1942-44 and receiving a Purple Heart.

In 1947, Bergesch began working in the Cardinals’ organization as GM for farm teams in Albany, Ga., Winston-Salem, N.C., Columbus, Ga., and Omaha, Neb. In 1959 and ’60, he served as the Cardinals’ scouting coordinator in St. Louis.

Bergesch served as the assistant GM of the Kansas City Athletics in 1961. After the season, he was hired as farm director for the Mets, and was responsible for setting up the farm system and hiring scouts prior to the club’s inaugural season in 1962.
After spending two years with the Mets, Bergesch joined the Yankees organization as the club's traveling secretary and stadium manager from 1964 through ’67.

Bergesch then went on to become a soccer GM, with the New York Generals of the National Professional Soccer League from 1967-68, before returning to the Yankees in 1978 as director of scouting.

In 1980, he was named Yankees vice president of baseball operations and remained at the post until resigning after the 1984 season. From 1991-92, he was the club’s assistant GM under Gene Michael before becoming a senior advisor in the Yankees baseball operations department from 1993-94. Since then, Bergesch became a fixture at Yankees Spring Training and an advisor to the organization.

Bergesch was a resident of Mamaroneck, N.Y., for more than 30 years, before moving to Rye, N.Y. He moved to Stamford in 2005 after the death of his wife, Virginia.

Bergesch is survived by his son, Robert, daughter, Susan Shanks and five grandchildren.


Larry Toman said...

Hi Rick, so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. Judging from what I read, he had a great life and career.It must have been quite a thrill to meet Ford and Houk.

Being from New Jersey, you'll like this. My son Dan and his girlfriend Lindsey just got their own apartment in Weehawken, NJ. Eight minute bus trip to NYC. Work is going great for him at ABC Sports Radio, and ESPN.

P.S. - John and I are back in the good books with each other (my fault) and he told me he still loves me.Don't go there.

Dan and Chris going to see the Jays at the Bronx Zoo next week. Cheers!!

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks, Larry. I don't know if I would go so far as to call him my friend. He was just a friend's dad. I didn't even hang around with his daughter Susan all that much. We went to school together, shared some classes. The whole family is/was terrific, just good people. And I don't remember how the ball trip came about. I guess he just figured it might be a nice thing to do. You know, I never even thought to ask. Stupid, I know now.